The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) strategic forces panel mark of the fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill would require the Defense Department to report on missile defense issues in the Indo-Pacific Command region.

Specifically, the mark requires the Secretary of Defense to report to the defense committees within 90 days of the act being enacted on the findings of a review conducted by the Secretary on the integrated air and missile defense sensor architecture needs for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. 

The report is directed to identify investments that should be made to increase the detection of non-ballistic threats and improve the discrimination of ballistic missile threats, especially in defense of Hawaii.

The mark also requires within 60 days of the bill’s enactment for the Defense Secretary to seek to enter into a contract with a federally-funded research and development center to conduct an independent assessment of the air and missile defense architecture needed to defend Guam.

A visualization of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)

The legislation says the assessment must  include an analysis of the proposed architecture capability to address non-ballistic and ballistic missile threats to Guam including the sensor, command and control and interceptor systems proposed; development and integration risk of the architecture; and manning required to operate the proposed architecture, including the availability of housing and infrastructure on Guam to support the manning needs.

Then, within 180 days after the bill is enacted, the Defense Department would submit the assessment to the defense committees.

A sense of Congress included in the mark argues that while the FY ‘23 budget request includes funding to develop and procure an integrated air and missile defense architecture to defend Guam, “a full assessment of the manning and infrastructure needed to support those components, including items such as power, water, and availability of personnel housing, was not included in the overall determination of feasibility.” 

It also noted the funding request did not include funding to continue development of a discrimination radar for homeland defense in Hawaii due to an ongoing reevaluation of the missile defense posture and sensor architecture in the Indo-Pacific Command region.

The Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) FY ‘23 request seeks $539 million to continue designing, developing and procuring components and initial military construction for the Guam defense mission (Defense Daily, April 1).

Previously, in March MDA revealed its chosen architecture to defend Guam against various missile threats includes mobile units with the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Aegis combat system,  Raytheon Technologies [RTX] Standard Missile (SM)-3 and SM-6 missiles, and the Northrop Grumman [NOC] Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) as well as maintaining the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system already on Guam (Defense Daily, March 29).

Last month MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill explained the decision to use mobile rather than fixed missile defenses as the result of an “extensive department-wide study” that took into consideration the number of fixed site options. He said one part of why defense of Guam is difficult is because they must balance the relatively limited places they can place defenses without competing with tourism and beautification of the island (Defense Daily, May 27).

“There are things we can do to get the capability there without destroying the tourist industry, because that is such a large part of Guam’s economy,” he said.

However, Hill argued while work must be done to make sure launchers carry the SM-3 and SM-6 missiles can be movable, it is not a major leap in engineering to make them mobile, given existing Army mobile missile launchers. 

Hill also referenced the previous Hawaii radar development work, noting MDA’s experience there helped them learn a lot about how to decide on sites and sensitizing them to local community concerns.

Separately, the mark would require the Secretary of Defense via the  director of MDA to submit a “comprehensive layered strategy to use asymmetric capabilities to defeat hypersonic missile threats” to the defense committees by March 1, 2023.

The strategy would address all asymmetric capabilities including directed energy, microwave systems, cyber capabilities and “any other capabilities determined appropriate by the Secretary and Director;” as well as identify the funding required to implement the strategy over the next five years.